Down Among the Vultures opens with a 10-minute monologue delivered by Waylon Simms (Andrew Hamling), a lowlife who supposedly owns a multi-million dollar cat litter company. Waylon is hooked up to an IV, swills a beer and pops a parade of pills as he rambles and rants incoherently in front of a large bird in a cage — a pet condor who thankfully peppers his master’s tirade with a few squeaks and squawks. At the end of the speech, Waylon pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the throat. The play goes downhill from there.
The following scenes center on Waylon’s son and daughter, Lars and Mindy-Lou (Michael Perrie Jr. and Laura Madden), a cynical pair who struggle to meet even the lowest expectations. On learning that the bird has received the entirety of Waylon’s inheritance, they begin to plot how to kill the animal while avoiding the penalties that will be levied by both the will and federal regulations against harming an endangered species.
The problems with this show, written by Brandon Thomas Disabatino and presented by the Green Hills Theater Collective, are threefold. One, the situations seem both unlikely and clichéd in the worst way. Two, all of the characters (including Waylon’s ex-wife played by Avé M. Lidon and his lawyer played by Bradley Jennings Evans) are merely versions of the same personality with the same dark and degraded worldview. And three, the characters talk at each other and at great length with little more than a lot of harsh language to shock us into being interested.
The final scene is a flashback to when Waylon was alive and the family still lived together. It is a picture of severe dysfunction, heavily laced with rudeness and raunch. Given the choices available, I would have left everything to the bird too.
Nicholas Korn is a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, Chicago and Cincinnati. His stage comedy, Delirium’s Daughters, recently played Off-Off Broadway at New York’s Theatre Row Studio Theatre in February 2015.